She’s Leaving Home

What with all the preparations, end of the school year, and various family medical traumas, I have barely had time to dwell on the fact that our daughter is about to leave home.

It’s just as well that I haven’t had that time.

Ross will be away for a full ten months (yes, I will visit). During winter vacation, the SAGE (exchange) program kids go on a one-month tour all over India, and, although it’s optional, Ross won’t want to pass that up. She will finish up at Woodstock next May 30th, presumably with enough course credits to graduate with a Woodstock diploma (equivalent to a US high school diploma).

She could theoretically then return to Italy for her fifth and final year of liceo, do the maturità (Italian school leaving exam), and go on to university in Italy – which has the advantage that it’s essentially free (we have paid for it already through our taxes). However, for reasons that I don’t feel like going into right now (because I’m so angry with the Italian school system), that is looking unlikely at present. So there’s a good chance that Ross will go straight on to college in the US, with only a vacation stopover back home in Lecco. Enrico and I are staring into the abyss of an empty nest.

Not that we thought she’d live with her parents til age 30, as so many Italian young people do – the girls do tend to get away earlier, and Ross just isn’t the type to stay home. There’s a big, wide world out there, and she can’t wait to go see it all.

Ross is also turning 18, just a few days after her school year at Woodstock begins. The 18th birthday is a big deal in Italy: it’s the voting age, the age of legal adulthood, and the age at which you can drive a car (drinking age? that was a while ago). Many kids, at least in Ross’ circles, celebrate 18 in a big way. Ross didn’t quite get her act together for a big party, but had a dinner out with a gang of friends. And we’re going to see a show in London, and will be having a few other treats along the way. Anything to keep me distracted from that moment when I have to wave goodbye to her at the airport.

Comments and shoulders to cry on welcome!

10 thoughts on “She’s Leaving Home

  1. Qt

    Is’t there any way to have the Woodstock diplome recognized here in Italy ?… just to have the option for Ross, even if you don’t like it very much and probably she won’t ;-), to go to the university here in Italy ?
    That said a USA college may broad even further Ross experiences, i often envied your (and now Ross) courage.
    I’ve read some of Ross blog (yesterday and some weeks ago)… but (and i’m saddened by it as it make me feel old) she speak “too young” i’m not saying that she is childish, not at all, i’m talking about the younger’s slang 🙂
    For a shoulder to cry on… even f we don’t known each other very well… being a little/very fat… my shoulders, without pointy bones protruding from them, are quite soft 🙂
    CIao!

  2. John Rowe

    I feel for you. We went through the same thing a few years back when our daughter turned 18. I think it was a little more difficult on my wife than me since I am out of the house during the day and have other things to take my mind off of the empty nest, (and the fact that she is now stuck with just ME and the cat.)

    However, she fell out with her roommates and moved back home. So its not always the separation you might think it is. Later she even got married and bought a house. They then sold it a year and a half later and moved back in with us to finish school. Its two and a half years now since the latest return occured, and they have both graduated. Now they are working on saving for a house and our daughter is getting a master’s degree. But, I’m not sure if they will EVER move out.

    Now I wonder why all the depression when she left the first time. Hang in there. Life happens and kids move on, but they don’t go that far.

    I’ve got big shoulders though. I feel your pain.

    Thanks for your effocts. You make my day when your newsletter arrives in my mailbox.

  3. alice, mother of ella

    Dear Dierdre —
    Have been thinking of you often since I heard Ross was heading out to Woodstock . . . and got sidetracked from my sympathies by going to Mussoorie for my own Ella’s graduation after her incredible two years there (someday I’ll make the list of the incredibles of that era, not even attempting to include the personalities, what it all LOOKS like, and the other innumerable intangibles); and then the flood of recent grads who’ve been passing through our place up here in the middle of Nowhere, New York. But I have had moments of remembering what a very hard goodbye it was the first time — and didn’t want to disturb you in the privacy of your own process, but DID and DO want to share one detail. I’d cried myself dry by the time we took her to the airplane two years ago today. And was thus ready to actually share her enthusiasm for getting’ the hell out of Dodge, and even able to support her in a few moments of doubt as we all drove to the airport together. But then the big moment came, I was exultant with pride at what a great idea she’d come up with for herself and she was striding along to the last gate . . . when from out of the blue, most unexpectedly, Babbo broke down and absolutely lost it!
    He simple could not stop crying, which was heartbreaking and so funny for everyone (he’s a tough kinda softee guy, if you know what I mean). Don’t know if you (or the husband/dad in your life) will have a similar time . . . but it’s what Ella remembers most, and made her feel the most homesick at that last bittersweet moment (her traveling companion told us this later) when they climbed up into the plane.

    We all wish you all an extraordinary year. And one all the sediments have settled in your emotional beaker, have I got gossip to fill you in on about the Woodstock scene … some juice that I doubt even your elevated and active role has prepared you to hear!

    Dierdre, please do what needs to be done to “invite me” back to your newsletter list. I miss the day to day. And I want to get caught up. YOU, by the bye, should plan to tag along for the last week of the winter tour, if I may make bold to suggest — I did it with Ella’s first year SAGE group, and it was an extraordinary way to share an adventure, AND to get to know some of the kids who changed my kid’s life. Cheap, too.

    Baci, Alice (I’m coming back to Italy for a few months next spring — maybe we can get together for a Mothers Meet Meal).

  4. Judith in Umbria

    You remembered to turn comments on!

    Lovely girl, and she resembles you so much. Isn’t it great to be a capable person who doesn’t fold when things go wrong? Isn’t this the way we teach our kids best?

    Having gone through some of these experiences over the years, you’ve brought back so many memories. The most recent was when mum up and left child who remains in the US. The last minute crap is all that prevented meltdown.

    Life is just it. Glorious, painful, proud and sad. Or you’re not doing it right!

  5. vangie

    Deirdre, you and Ross are so bonded already that not having her in proximity may take some getting used to, but it will not shake those bonds. Actually, it will strengthen them — fom now on, you
    ll have one more life-long thing in common: both being Woodstock alumnae. 😉

  6. Alice mother of Ella!

    Just read about your airport agonies, and figure you did just about better than could have been hoped, given what stacked up against an easy departure! And at least Ross can chalk up her tears as over missing her clothes (and were productive, intentionally or not!) rather than a meltdown of missing family and friends.

    You did it! All of you! She’s off!!! I’ll be bold and suggest that no matter how hard you could (and you won’t) try to co-opt this Woodstock experience as yours, it will be entirely hers — but she CAN share it, by god. And I further suggest you insist (blame me) that she e-write to you at least 3 times a week (that was my deal with Ella, and it was wonderful — not only did mama-moi have the best and most peaceful mail/interpersonal relationship with an adolescent loved one in the history of the earth, but it became the best ready-made graduation gift: all hers and mine are now together as a book – w/pictures! – a two-way journal full of drama, delight, agony, ecstasy, boredom, blinding insight, and weather reports).

    Keep us all posted — and when my 24/7 life here at Hyde Hall settles down (we’re mid-summer in frantically fab Cooperstown’s great baseball, opera, history and art high season — come see! — a dull roar will be most welcome any time now) I will spill my beans about behind-the-drawn-veil Woodstock as I had it revealed to me . . . ! May be in part exaggeration or rubbish, but I can vouch for a number of truths that startled me, at least.

    You wrote about Sanjay’s help — I met Deepak Peters, and hope to have him come visit soon. He must also have been in your class?? Our world grows smaller, rapidly.

    Best till soon, Alice

  7. Charlie Blank

    Deidre,

    You never get over it! If you are lucky, you have it all again when grandchildren that live close to you leave home. So true do Kahlil Gibran’s verses about children in “The Prophet” ring while you watch your little arrow take flight.

    Does English or Italian have a word to capture the feeling like the German word “Wehmut” does?

    I am hoping we can find a way to go boating with Ruth and your dad next spring. Maybe we could see you then.

    Love…..Beedle

  8. Anna Belanger

    Hi Deidre,
    Leaving home is always a wounding occasion and I was glad this morning to accidentally find your site and read about your daughter leaving home.
    My son is of the same age as your daughter, only he decided to stay on for half a semester in high school this fall and identify what his passions are to follow in the coming years. For the past three years he thought he wanted to study computers but alas he has changed his mind.
    My friend from Seattle Washington just moved this past month to France{her husband works for Microsoft} and her daughter was going on to Disney to study animation but her too has decided to take a year off and travel with her dad in Europe and experience that aspect of life. I must admit that I’m relieved that my son has decided to stay around home a little longer { just turned eighteen Sept 2}; I would selfishly find it hard and depressing to let him go but I know soon the time will come. I just got a little lucky this time around with God noticing the medical tribulations that I have and am going thru and probably thought it best to give me a break…ha-ha.
    Anyways I thought I drop you a line and say that I feel for you deeply and for all moms and dads that have to part with their children but also keep in mind that they will be going on a wonderful journey of discovery….of mind, body and soul and of knowledge and that they are not gone forever! Hope this helps a bit and love your site of information.

    THANKS Annabelle
    P.S. I miss Italt terribly….I was born in Genova

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